It hopes to use imagery to assess risk more accurately 

Ecclesiastical Insurance has announced it will be scheduling a fourth site after trialling drone technology at three of its sites previously.

It claims the proposition will enhance its risk management service for commercial customers.

The data gathered from the drones will also enable the insurer to calculate reinstatement or restoration values with more certainty and reduce underinsurance.

Mark Matthews, risk management director at Ecclesiastical said: “The use of drone technology gives us access to high quality imagery and very accurate data, which would be near impossible to obtain via traditional surveying methods.

“We can then apply our own knowledge and expertise to the results to assess the risks and provide specialist advice on how to manage these.”

He added that heritage structures present “unique access and maintenance challenges”.

Revealing results

The firm uses drones to provide aerial imagery of otherwise inaccessible parts of buildings which is then used as risk insight and accurate data to support building valuations undertaken by its surveyors.

The drones have revealed damaged and loose high-level slate, as well as tiles, stonework and missing pointing.

Matthews added: “From the trials we’ve been running it’s clear that drone technology will complement the expertise of our risk management team and strengthen the service we provide to our customers.

“We are excited to see what else this technology can bring to our offering.”

The insurer has also shared its drone imagery with its trial sites.

Test sites

At one of its test sites – a school in the south of England – the drone showed a number of footballs, rugby balls and tennis balls sitting on the roof of its new sports hall obstructing the gutters.

At another test site – St Hilda’s church in Halifax, the images have been used as part of an application to source funding for a maintenance grant.

The Reverend Caroline Greenwood, vicar at St Hilda’s explained: “We’ve known about issues with the church’s guttering for some time but haven’t been able to get up to the roof to inspect them properly.

“Now we have really clear pictures of the problem and we can submit the photos as part of our grant application and hopefully that will strengthen our case.”

And at Worcester Cathedral the use of drone technology has been used to inspect the Cathedral’s tower, meaning that the church will not have to pay for costly scaffolding and can instead plan the work that is needed.

“We were conscious that parts of the tower needed to be inspected but the costs and logistical challenges of doing this meant we had not been able to do so,” added Val Floy, chief operating officer at Worcester Cathedral. 

Ecclesiastical was founded in 1887 and is a specialist insurer of the faith, heritage, fine art, charities, education and private client sectors.

It recently rolled out LeakBots to brokers and last month it appointed a new chairman – David Henderson.